Multicriteria Mapping

What's it all about

Introduced for the first time as a web-based service in 2015, Multicriteria Mapping (MCM) is a globally-available, easily-accessible, multicriteria appraisal method for exploring contrasting perspectives on complex strategic and policy issues. The tool aims to help 'open up' technical assessment by systematically 'mapping' the practical implications of alternative options, knowledges, framings and values.

MCM uniquely bridges qualitative and quantitative approaches, and enables more participatory analysis. It allows great flexibility, offering an appraisal method that is strongly grounded in theory but highly unconstrained in practice. This versatility has been reflected in its use internationally to explore contentious decisions in the fields of energy strategy, food production, environmental policy, radioactive waste management and public health.

During an MCM interview, participants are given a list of predefined ‘core options’, which they can add to and redefine if they wish to, to create additional options for appraisal.  They develop their own sets of criteria to use for evaluating the options and then assign optimistic and pessimistic scores under each criterion for each option.

At every step, care is taken also to capture qualitative reasons, which captures important uncertainties and ambiguities which are often glossed over in traditional appraisal methodologies. Participants are asked to justify their scoring in relation to their own understanding of salient evidence, but are not constrained in the picture they generate. They then assign simple numerical weights to criteria to produce a picture of overall option rankings. 

Aided by a visual representation of the scores and weights, participants can interact with this picture of rankings to help them settle on a final set of weightings and (if necessary) also revisit the scoring process until they are satisfied that the final picture meaningfully reflects their perspective.